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Republican lawmakers vote down bill aiming to improve transparency of Virginia's Standards of Learning

The process to revise Virginia’s history and social studies SOLs is under the spotlight after months of public backlash.

RICHMOND, Va. — A bill aimed at clearing up confusion over school standards in Virginia died in subcommittee hearings Wednesday.

Wednesday, six Republican lawmakers on an education subcommittee voted down House Bill 1851, which:

"Requires the Board of Education, at least 30 days prior to the public hearings that it is required to hold prior to establishing revised Standards of Learning, to publish on its website in a publicly accessible format a list of each individual and organization that has been consulted regarding the revision of such Standards of Learning and the amount paid by any state agency or entity for any such consultation, if applicable."

"One of the complaints I hear is when they see the final product, they don’t know who was consulted," Del. Suhas Subramanyam said, who introduced the bill.

In a statement released after the bill was voted down, Del. Subramanyam said:

“Parents, students, and educators deserve to know who is writing and revising our SOLs and whether, for example, far right think tanks are infiltrating this process with their political agenda. This process is too important to our kids to leave it to conversations behind closed doors without transparency about who is deciding what will be taught in our schools.”

The process to revise Virginia’s history and social studies SOLs is under the spotlight after months of public backlash coming from errors and omissions related to race and world history.

Education leaders and other lawmakers have previously attacked what they call a lack of transparency in this ongoing process, citing limited public input into a recently drafted November version of the history SOLs. 

The bill's failure in subcommittee hearings comes weeks after documents previously obtained by 13News Now show one of the stakeholders of the November standards draft, Sheila Byrd Carmichael, received $1,000 per day for 15 days of work.  

House bill 1851 aimed to make those transactions more readily accessible to the public, but Republican lawmakers voted not to advance the bill citing its scope of work was "redundant."

The state board will look over a new history standards draft next week. 

The Virginia Education Association publicly backed this bill and spoke in support of it before it was voted down. 

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